Sunday’s sermon: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

i am enough

Texts used – Psalm 139; Matthew 5:13-16




  • It’s anthem day, y’all!! No matter who you are or where your interests lie, it cannot be denied that anthems make the world go ‘round, am I right?
    • Anthem (definition): a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group, body, or cause
    • Sports anthems
    • National
    • Personal – can be anything
      • Empowering (song that gets you through the tough times): “Fight Song” – Rachel Platten (2014) or “Brave” – Sara Bareilles (2013)
      • Uplifting (song that immediately makes you smile as soon as you hear it): “Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond (1969)
      • Emblematic (song that speaks to who you are at your core): “Born This Way” – Lady Gaga (2011)
    • For a lot of people, today’s song from The Greatest Showman – “This Is Me”[1] – has become that iconic, emblematic song for a lot of people. Let’s listen to it. – [PLAY “This Is Me”]

  • In terms of our faith … in terms of our Scripture readings for this morning … in terms of the lyrics of this song, I feel like this says it all.
    • Psalm 139 = Scriptural anthem of sorts for a lot of people, myself included
      • Scripture that is renewing and uplifting
      • Scripture that empowers
      • Scripture that brightens the spirit
      • Scripture that is significant and speaks powerfully to and for people’s journeys of faith
      • When I was first considering a call to ministry, I contacted a former minister of mine – Pastor Jamie Swanson, the pastor I’d had until I was about 10 yrs. old. At the time, he was serving a congregation in Streator, Illinois, and when I called to talk to him about what it might mean to be called – about ministry and life as a pastor and what the heck this pull that I might have been feeling on my heart could mean – one of the first things he said to me was, “Go and read Psalm 139.” → Scripture’s had a special place in my heart and in my ministry ever since
        • Bad news for y’all = I could talk about this psalm all day … but I won’t. 🙂
    • Uniqueness and individuality upheld in this psalm:
      • Text: Lord, you have examined me. You know me.[2]
        • Personal
        • Individual
        • Distinct
        • “Lord, you have examined You know me.” → not one of those communal psalms like the one we talked about last week – much more intimate than that
        • Heb. “examined” = fairly loaded word all sorts of meanings and nuances wrapped up in this little word
          • Thoroughness = “investigated” and “tried”
          • Enthusiasm = “explored” (elements of hope and discovery and excitement)
          • Mysteriousness = connotations of being impenetrable and unascertainable
          • Friends, these are all the ways that God has looked at us: lovingly and zealously searching and testing and studying every part of who we are, becoming intimately familiar with all that we are, all that we hope for, all that we hide from and all that we try to hide … the brave parts and the bruised parts, as our song says.
    • Profound, fundamental knowing idea that God knows us better than we know ourselves = powerful element woven throughout the psalm as well
      • Text: You know when I sit down and when I stand up. Even from far away, you comprehend my plans. You study my traveling and my resting. You are thoroughly familiar with all my ways. There isn’t a word on my tongue, Lord, that you don’t already know completely. … You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. … My bones weren’t hidden from you when I was being put together in a secret place, when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth.[3]
      • Implied in that “knowing” is that God is also both accepting and even delighted by us … by every part of us – text: I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful – I know that very well.[4]  I think that this may be one of the lines in the Bible that we have the most trouble accepting. We live in a culture driven by advertising and various “betterment” industries, all clamoring to tell us exactly what’s wrong with us – how we could be better, smarter, richer, fancier, thinner, prettier, stronger, more satisfied, more successful, more effective, more driven, more powerful … more, more, more, better, better, better … so that all we end up hearing is, “Not enough. Not enough. Not enough.” Right?
        • Become such an engrained part of our culture that when superstar singer, producer, and songwriter Alicia Keys made the decision to stop wearing makeup altogether a few years ago, it was a HUGE deal!
          • Google search autofill: type “Alicia Keys” “no makeup” is the 6th most common search
          • Still something that reporters and journalists are asking her about website article from just a month ago[5]
        • In the face of all that “not enough,” it’s hard for us to stand up and declare, “I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful … including me.” Or, as your pew Bible puts it, “I praise you, God, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It’s hard for us to make that kind of bold, self-confident proclamation and actually believe it, isn’t it? But that’s the thing: that’s the heart of this passage, and that’s the heart of our song – saying, “Yes, God, I have flaws and imperfections, but this is me. This is me. This is me with all my brokenness and bruises. This is me with all my scars and shame. This is me. And you made me. And you love me. And that’s beautiful … beautiful enough to convince me to love me, too.”
          • Song: I am not a stranger to the dark / Hide away, they say / ‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts / I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars / Run away, they say / No one’ll love you as you are / But I won’t let them break me down to dust / I know that there’s a place for us / For we are glorious … I am brave, I am bruised / I am who I’m meant to be / This is me[6] → That’s why this has become such a powerful anthem for so many people today – people who have been told by society, by the people around them, by their classmates and co-workers and everyone else that, for whatever reason, they don’t measure up … that they aren’t good enough. This songs says, “You know what? Yes, I am. I am exactly who I’m meant to be, and I am glorious.”
            • Story of Emily
  • Part of claiming that we are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made is also claiming that God has a purpose for us in this world enter our NT reading this morning
    • Text: You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.[7]
      • Recognizes that there is something special about YOU
        • Something particularly salty
        • Something particularly light
        • A special element about who you are – broken edges, bruises, scars, and all – that adds to this world in a way no one else can
          • Song: When the sharpest words wanna cut me down / I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out / I am brave, I am bruised / I am who I’m meant to be / This is me / Look out ‘cause here I come / And I’m marching on to the beat I drum / I’m not scared to be seen / I make no apologies / This is me[8]
        • Special, particular way that you and only you can reflect the nature and wonder and beauty and love of God in this world
          • From When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner: You, you, when God made YOU / God made you all shiny and new. An incredible you, a you all your own, a you unlike anyone else ever known. / An exclusive design, one God refined, / you’re a perfectly crafted one of a kind. / ‘Cause when God made you, / somehow God knew / that the world needed someone / exactly like you.[9]
          • Julia Cameron, American teacher and prolific writer: All of us contain a divine, expressive spark, a creative candle intended to light our path and that of our fellows.
  • So hear me this morning, friends. Hear me loud and clear: You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God knows you inside and out – better than you even know yourself, and God finds you marvelous. God finds you brave and bruised, broken and beautiful. No matter what, God loves you. No matter what, God delights in you. No matter what, God created you to be a bold and treasured light in this world. Thanks be to God. Amen.

[1] “This Is Me” written by Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, © 2017 Sony/ATV Music.

[2] Ps 139:1.

[3] Ps 139:2-4, 13, 15.

[4] Ps 139:14.


[6] “This Is Me” written by Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, © 2017 Sony/ATV Music.

[7] Mt 5:13-16.

[8] “This Is Me” written by Justin Paul, Benj Pasek, © 2017 Sony/ATV Music.

[9] Matthew Paul Turner. When God Made You. (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Books, 2017), 1-2.